What I Stopped Spending (Tons of) Money on as an Adult

Learn from my mistakes.

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I like to think of myself as a fairly money-savvy adult. I know my credit score, I have a budget, and I keep track of the money coming and the money coming out of my household. I wouldn’t say that the husdude and I are super frugal, but we are definitely more frugal than we used to be – and some of that comes from the trial and error of being an adult. 

There are tooons of things I used to throw money at as a young adult that I look back on now and cringe. I am a huge proponent of strategic splurging, and a lot of these things I thought were smart splurges at the time or daily expenses I thought were absolutely necessary, but they turned out to be huge wastes of money.

They say that fools learn from their own mistakes and the wise learn from others, so here’s your chance – these are the things I’ve stopped spending so much money on as an adult, and you should too:  

Trendy or Impractical Shoes

I have always, always, loved shoes – probably more than I’ve ever loved clothes. So when I first started earning money in college and through my internships, the first thing I ‘splurged’ on was a pair of black leather booties with a huuuuuuge wooden platform (it was 2012 when Pinterest reigned and Litas were everything, in my defense). I loved those shoes, and I still wear them every once in a while, but they were (are) completely impractical, uncomfortable to wear, and, now, quite dated

I went through this cycle a few times until I realized the money I was spending on trendy shoes was much better spent on the shoes I’d wear all the time, like work flats, summer sandals, or versatile heels. I will still buy a pair of trendy shoes once every few seasons, but you better believe I’m buying them either on deep discount or from Target. 

Tons of Makeup

Like shoes, I love makeup, and I went through a phase in college and early adulthood where I spent wayyyyy too much money on makeup products I thought I “needed” to build up my “collection”. And yes, while I dream of one day having a gorge vanity with a makeup collection to rival a beauty vlogger’s, nice makeup is expensive, y’all, and there’s nothing I loathe more than dropping a chunk of change on a product that ends up sitting on my shelf, unused (looking at you, UD Smoked palette). 

Now, I limit the amount of makeup I buy to what I know I’ll really use and spend strategically on products I know I’ll use every day, like foundations, concealers, and brow products. I also spend a little less on the ‘variables’, like lipstick or blush, that I want more options with, or that I’m likely to change up with the seasons or as trends change. 

Lastly, I try to only buy new products when one runs out; this keeps me honest, and from buying every new makeup product that drops. This doesn’t mean that I don’t splurge on the makeup brands I love – all bets are off when Glossier drops a new product. It’s about balance, right? 

Daily Coffees

Again, a terrible habit I developed in college that ended up costing me hundreds of dollars; the daily coffee run. This wasn’t just trips to sbux – this was buying bottled frappuccinos, energy drinks, and whatever else I was using to keep me awake when I shouldn’t have been during my senior year. Not only was this really bad for my health, it was v expensive.

I brought this habit into the workforce with me. There are about five coffee shops within a block radius of my office, making it extremely easy to buy a macchiato every morning on my way into work when I easily could have made iced coffee at home instead. This added up to well over 100 dollars of additional spending every month. 

Now, I limit my iced coffee habit to about once a week, as a treat. I’m not perfect – I still crave caffeine when I’m stressed out – but this has helped significantly reduce not just my discretionary spending, but the sugar and saturated fat I’m consuming throughout the day. Win-win.  

Fast Fashion Shopping Sprees

When I first started working, I was in such a hurry to bulk up my work wardrobe that I went a little crazy buying pieces. Some of those were rather expensive dresses and blazers for interviews and meetings, and I thought I was being savvy by mixing in trendy fast-fashion pieces to fill in the gaps. Not so. 

While I had a lot of trendy and stylish options for a few months, they didn’t last or went out of style quickly. This left me in the same position I was in before, minus a couple hundred bucks. 

Of course, I still shop at Target and H&M for trendier work clothes and accessories, but now I’d much rather opt for a few well-made (albeit more expensive) pieces I love and wear on heavy rotation than a buffet of cheap clothes that won’t last as long. You might pay more money up front, of course, but you end up saving money in the long run

Takeout AND Frozen/Boxed Meals

The husdude and I have always liked to cook, but as we got more entrenched in our careers we fell into a habit of ordering takeout on the night when we’d come home exhausted (which is a lot of the time, tbh). We also would buy boxed or frozen foods, like tortellini or evol meals, that we could brainlessly make when money was a little tighter but we knew we were in for a rough week. 

Here’s the thing – these foods are super convenient, but like indulgent coffees, they’re not the best for your health, and they’re often more expensive than buying ingredients for fresh meals. There’s nothing wrong with buying these things once in a while, obvi – we still get takeout or eat out about once a week, because we like food – but you’re better off in the long run finding cheap-ish and easy recipes you can make even after a long day of work. 

Even if you can’t find the energy to turn on the stove at the end of the day, consider making a huge batch of soup or pasta at the beginning of the week and portioning it out – or try a meal-prep plan that takes the thinking out of it for you. 

What do you think? 

What did you used to spend a ton of money on when you were younger? What do you save money on now? Do you agree with any of these? Let me know in the comments below! 

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